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Getting There Is Only Half The Fun

Silverton Colorado

The saying “getting there is half the fun” seems tailor made for Silverton, Colorado. However you choose to get here, be prepared for an incredible travel experience. Approaching from the south, you can reach Silverton’s 9,318 mountain elevation on one of the world’s greatest train journeys. Or from the north, take one of the world’s most exhilarating drives along the Million Dollar Highway, as we did from Ouray.

But getting to Silverton really is only half the fun. Exploring this old mining town’s boisterous past is the other half. Old west style architecture still dominates the city’s often dirt roads and tells the tale of a town once divided.

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The “Switzerland of America”

Ouray Colorado

From street level the majestic San Juan Mountains tower above Ouray, Colorado, in nearly every direction you look. It is no wonder the small town has taken to calling itself the “Switzerland of America.” We’ve yet to visit that European country, so we can’t comment on the similarities. What we can attest to, though, is the awesome natural beauty found everywhere in this corner of Southwestern Colorado.

We arrived in Ouray via the San Juan Skyway; a 233 mile scenic loop connecting several historic towns, including our last stop, Durango. Not wanting to drive the motor home over the mountain passes of the Million Dollar Highway, we took the Skyway’s longer western route, and are glad we did.

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Video of the Day: Million Dollar Highway

A stretch of mountain road connecting Durango, Colorado with our next stop in Ouray is often referred to as The Million Dollar Highway. Nobody knows if that dollar figure refers to the value of the gold and silver ore thought to be mixed in with the fill underneath the pavement or an attempt to put a price on the accompanying views. One thing everyone seems to agree on though is that driving the Million Dollar Highway, with its steep grades, hairpin turns and absence of guardrails can be one of the most dangerous trips in the country. It even made an appearance on an episode of Speed Network’s Dangerous Drives. So naturally, it’s a road we just had to drive.

Kayak Durango

Kayak Durango, Lower Animas River, CO

Brain navigating a rapid on the Lower Animas River, Durango, CO

There is a certain amount of self discovery that goes hand in hand with trying new things. Prior to setting out on our current journey we never really considered ourselves particularly adventurous. Now we know that most of our favorite activities, from ziplining in Massachusetts, to mountain biking down Pike’s Peak 14,000 foot summit, to spelunking in Kentucky (and BelizeNew Mexico, . . .), all require some form of head protection.

Why should whitewater kayaking be any different?

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Mesa Verde an Ancient Metropolis

Tower House Mesa Verde National Park

Tower House Mesa Verde National Park

Some things never get old. Like the ancient cliff dwellings scattered throughout the American Southwest. We find them endlessly fascinating.

In previous posts we’ve likened the structures at Bandelier National Monument to ancient condos and those at Gila to primordial McMansions. Compared to those parks, Mesa Verde is an Ancestral Puebloan metropolis. The park’s 52,000 acres contain nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites, including a whopping 600 cliff dwellings.

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